Children are profound because they give us insight into what a human being is when they are fresh and new and not overly abstract or bothered. They are an uncorrupted form of ourselves. They demonstrate what I believe is the skeleton of human thought and emotion:
They are quick to laugh and they are quick to cry. They will laugh about the small things, they will cry about the small things. They will laugh when they are confused and they will cry when they are frustrated.
Children laugh when I simply lower my voice and say something slower to them during class. Because it is different. Because it doesn’t happen a lot. Because it is new.
Because everything is New to children, everything is something that needs to have an emotional reaction, whether positive (laughter and smiles) or negative (tears and tantrums).
Children are like drunks: their reactions are extreme to simple things, and their emotions become true and raw. A better word to describe what is expressed is Bonseong, because it is the concept of a raw and natural interior of a human being, and that is what children do: express the bonseong without the corruption.
Next time you are drunk, think a little bit about this, and try to understand the Natural Raw that is inside of you, and try to bring that to the surface. It is literally like staring at yourself in a mirror and thinking that, for a split second, you saw your Soul flash before your eyes. Sometimes when I drink I feel like I know myself better than when I am not drinking.
Children seek your approval — just as all humans subconsciously seek the approval of others, a child will do this in more obvious and extreme ways, by literally copying everything that you do.
And they are good at it. There are few people in their 20s and 30s who are Korean and can say “Verv.” They all say “Burb.” But in 2 to 3 tries a child can usually properly say “Verv,” because they literally stare at your mouth while you speak and imitate the formation of your lips and teeth.
Because their brains are uncorrupted by a complete molding of a lingual format into them, they are capable of it. That seems profound to me: the less you have in your brain, the more you can achieve linguistically. I think we can learn from this that if we were to destroy our preconceived notions about certain concepts and think Clearly, as a Child, we could think of something more profound. I am trying to do this.
A child in Monterey, California saw me walk into a Quiznos sometime during the summer of 2004. She said:
“Daddy, why does that man have drawings on all his arms?”
“Those are not drawings. Those are tattoos.”
“Daddy, I want to get a tattoo, too.”
This was a good demonstration of the innocence of children: they understand a tattoo as a drawing on a body, and as people who appreciate drawings, they see tattoos as a positive. If children ruled the world, we’d all draw what we like on our arms, and we’d all walk around with pretty pictures of awesome animals and city-scapes on our bodies. What harm exists in art? And who wouldn’t want to carry art on themselves?
Because they have no preconceived notions they can appreciate things better than adults. And if we destroy our notions of them, we can also appreciate things better. Not only do we grow intellectually through Emptying our mind, but we grow aesthetically.
A child is also Quick to Anger and Quick to Forgive. But their Anger is different. When a child feels hurt by something, they ask, “Why did you hurt me?” in their expression. There is a sense of shock and awe. When an adult is hurt by someone, they do their best to hide this fact.
Adults are dishonest to themselves with their own emotions. Children are so utterly honest about how they feel they will let the world know.
Women are more connected to themselves than men because they are less likely to hide it, and this is also why in Taoist tradition it is believed that women have a unique ki and strength. A man is just Yang energy, he is the Heavens, but the Taoists knew about volcanoes, and they believed inside of a woman (represented by Earth), the Yin energy has a core of Yang energy, as well, and thus is a more complex lifeform. Maybe that’s true.
What I recommend to you to try to do differently in your day to day life is the following:
– Empty your mind of preconceived notions of other people and of ideas. You will be able to see beautiful for beautiful and ugly for ugly, because when you classify things into systematic reasoning your system will fail you, and you will fail to see some of these things.
Systems literally state “it is good to be X, so it is not good to be Y, because it is not X.” (Of course it is more complex than this but you get the idea). What if we were capable of appreciating both X and Y? Wouldn’t that be nice?
– Be honest with your emotions. It is too much to ask an adult to be ready or willing to cry over spilled milk but it is not too much to ask an adult to express the fact that they are wounded when they are wounded, and happy when they are happy.
You cannot grow as a human being unless you are honest with your emotions and do not lie to yourself. You must feel them purely. You must feel them in solid colors. Never deny that you are sad. Never deny that you are happy. Let everything naturally come up from your gut unfiltered by the brain.
– You subconsciously want to be accepted by everyone around you and children fulfill this by laughter & smiles. When you laugh and you smile you will produce this in others and gain acceptance.
If you smile at a stranger one of two things will happen:
– They will look away.
– They will smile back.
Do you know why they look away? Because they would smile if they kept looking. Humans naturally, as we are similar to herd animals, imitate the expressions and emotions of those around them.
If I smile at someone I know, who I know doesn’t look away, even if there is nothing to smile about, their reaction will always be the same no matter who the person:
They will smile back at me and say “What? What is it?” and they will feel happiness even though it is literally reasonless smiling.
Children are experts at charming other human beings through the expression of reasonless happiness.
And reasonless happiness — that is an amazing concept in itself.
Chuang-tzu was seen by some disciples jumping up and down and clapping his hand in a pattern while walking on a path one day. His disciples asked, “Master, why are you doing this?” All of them expected a profound answer as Chuang-tzu was always a man of profound words. And they received a profound answer:
“Because it’s fun.”
Christ also noted that we must become like little children to accept the Kingdom of God. I think that in some way this is a little bit of what he was talking.
I will end this by saying that I am honored and blessed to teach young children. I initially thought it would be boring because these children would have nothing profound to say — they would not be like the high school kids that I could have adult discussions with.
But I was wrong. And literally, everything that occurs is a lesson to me on what human beings can be like at the base of their souls.
Children have helped re-affirm that humanity is fundamentally good, and they have taught me to be a better person. I am indebted to this experience.
It is a privilege to teach.